Re: Cooper's works

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Posted by ann on August 19, 1998 at 08:26:20:

In Reply to: Re: Cooper's works posted by Gayle on August 19, 1998 at 07:49:37:

: : : If you like social and feminist issues, he's got some awfully good books about those, too. "Precaution" is the mirror image of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice", but I think, a much more interesting story. "Ways of the Hour" is a real ripper - that's the one I posted about before that could pass for a 1990s Grisham trial novel. "The Oak Openings" is a good Indian story, and you will recognize a scene in it that was lifted for LOTM. "The Wept of Wish Ton Wish" deals with a Quaker girl who is captured by the Indians and truly loves her Indian husband, much to the dismay of her family when they finally find her.

: : : Gayle

: : Gayle, I'm a huge fan of Jane Austin and read P&P at least once a year. I'm very interested now in "Precaution". And being a complete romantic, I'll have to read "The Wept of Wish Ton Wish" as you said.

: : I suppose though, having got half-way through LOTM, I should finish all the Leatherstockings first. There's an order to them, isn't there? It's all in one of those extensive analyses somewhere on this vast LOTM website.

: : Thanks for the tip!!
: : Cheers,
: : Sarah

: Sarah and JC,

: I'm delighted that you are interested in plowing through Cooper's books. It's hard to find people who have read them and like discussing the many ideas stuffed into them, but this Board has something for everybody - even anachronisms like me. Also, it appears to me that Mann and/or his writers were very familiar with a lot of Cooper's work, since LOTM contains lines and parts of scenes lifted from other books. Mann recognized that the book could not be taken out of context, and he did a masterful job of using other material to support the story.

: Cooper's got some good stuff - but he's also got some very bad stuff. Although, overall, he never wrote a novel which did not bear some really varied and interesting discussion, I don't laud him uncritically by a long sight. I made a statement in a post to Marcia yesterday which, on reflection, I think needs some balance. That referred to the common practice of novelists of using a "novel" as a political brickbat. As Cooper continued to write, he also continued to become more and more obsessed with the anti-rent movement and the dangers of "democracy" run amok. He quickly succumbed to the inevitable novelists' disease and started to use a flimsy story as an excuse to rant and rage about his own political obsessions. "Homeward Bound", "Home as Found" and two of the three "Littlepage Manuscripts" fall into this category. "The Oak Openings" starts out as a fascinating story of Indians and prairie life, but three quarters of the way through, Cooper loses the story completely and devotes the rest to agenda. The ending really disappointed me, because I really was fascinated with the book until then.

: The only excuse I can come up with for his agendizing is that, at least, he always made it clear he was arguing his own viewpoint, and he never refused to allow his readers the privilege of holding another viewpoint. This is where he differs from the political correctness that characterizes the 20th century "novels".

: As to the Leatherstocking Tales, There are a number of analyses in our Musings pages devoted to Cooper books and characters. As I said in an E-mail to Marcia, hoping not to sound vain, my "Natty Bumppo: On the Trail of The Pathfinder" may be some help with understanding what was going on and what I think Cooper was about with his character, and my greatest hope is that I will find somebody who either finds it a useful guide or disagrees with what I have written and comes up with some opposing views. The order of The Leatherstocking Tales is:
: The Deerslayer
: Last of the Mohicans
: The Pathfinder
: The Pioneers
: The Prairie

: Gayle
Sincere thanks Gayle, for the Cooper Reading List above. The order of "Leatherstocking Tales" is helpful as well. You certainly have a wealth of JFC information.

take care, Ann

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